Will Scotland vote for independence or will it remain part of the United Kingdom? No one knows!! The Opinion Polls are too close to call, but over 4 million residents in Scotland will cast their votes today and we will learn the future tomorrow morning!! Complacency and overconfidence seemed to be the hallmark of the “Better Together” grouping who have struggled to present anything positive to the “No” campaign. Certainly Prime Minister David Cameron must have wished to be anywhere but Balmoral last week when he had to explain to Her Majesty that an opinion poll was about to be published showing he was on the verge of overseeing the break-up of her most precious possession, the 307-year-old union.
Both David Cameron and Ed Miliband must be cringing with embarrassment at the possible loss of the “Union”. Cameron has busied himself with Libya, Syria and – latterly – berating Vladimir Putin for defending his Russian citizens in Ukraine; meanwhile he has ignored the insurrection going on at home!! Meanwhile Ed Miliband may be saying “Goodbye” to any chance of a Labour Government at Westminster if he loses the 40 Labour MPs from Scotland; you might think that he would have prioritised the “Better Together” campaign for his own interest if for no other reason!!
One lady Conservative strategist from outside the Downing Street inner circle worried about the tone and direction of the “No” campaign. She commented: “It sounds like a man whose wife is leaving him, but instead of trying to win her back by talking about all the wonderful things they have done together, and telling her how much he loves her, he is shouting about how she won’t get any money or see the children if they get divorced.”
Whatever the result of Thursday’s vote, Alex Salmond is already the big winner of this contest. The unionists have been outwitted, outmanoeuvred and outcampaigned at every turn by the nationalists. Although Labour must share some of the responsibility, it is the prime minister who should shoulder most of the blame. It was he who caved in to the SNP leader over the date of the referendum, giving the independence cause time to build momentum, and it was he who refused to include a third compromise option on the ballot paper, offering the “Devo-Max” option that he has now been forced to concede. Complacency, cockiness and cliquishness; put together with a trademark tendency to place tactics before strategy, present a huge issue for the country and the Conservative party if a renegotiation and referendum on Europe ever go ahead. Here is a picture of the crowds of “No” campaigners who attended the “Better Together” rally in Trafalgar Square.
Back in 2010, David Cameron declared there was no doubt the “Barnett formula”, which is used to calculate funding for the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, was “coming to the end of its life.” But this week he put his signature alongside those of his Labour and LibDem counterparts under a pledge splashed across the Scottish Daily Record that promised voters the formula would be maintained!! The 35-year-old population-based “Barnett formula” allows Scotland to maintain identifiable public expenditure per head that is £1,623, or 19%, higher than in England. Analysts say a shift to a needs-based formula would mean cuts to the Scottish budget. But the three UK leaders have given away the guarantee as well as further tax-determination powers in their panic response to one adverse opinion poll without even consulting their Westminster parties!!?? Certainly if we do stay together after Thursday, David Cameron should immediately contract Alex Salmond to do his negotiation of new terms with the European Commission if he wants to get any success!!
However there have been one or two hiccups even in Alex Salmond’s independence campaign. Thus presumably his publicists had not foreseen that one of the doors might be open when they allowed the “F” to be painted on the carriage doors of the Flying Scotsman train pictured below!!
There was a big crowd that turned out yesterday evening for the First Round of our premier Pairs competition - the Tilling Trophy - at the Oxshott Bridge Club. We were also playing the cards from the Surrey Simultaneeous Pairs competition and - just to complete the excitement - Kay O'Gorman had provided a selection of wines for Members to join her in celebrating 30 years off alcohol. Well done to Kay and a big "Thank you!!" for your generosity!! The results from the Surrey Sims competition will appear on the "Competitions" page at the weekend when the input from all the Clubs participating have been collated, but our local scoring revealed a closely contended competition. You can read all about the evening's play in the Report by clicking on the "Competitions" tab in the Menu to the left of this page. Alternatively you can study the full Leaderboard and the individual Travellers by clicking on the "Latest Result" button at the top right of this page.